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How Mike Carlton got it wrong

Philip Dalidakis shares his thoughts on Mike Carlton's take on Gaza.


Mike Carlton’s malevolent agenda

Philip Dalidakis, commentator for Sky News and ABC News writes: Israel is a small and isolated western democracy surrounded by undemocratic states and terrorist-controlled territories. Israel is not beyond criticism, nor do I lightly accuse people of anti-Semitism. It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel, but it is if you don’t hold other regimes and conflicts to the same standard.

Mike Carlton’s article on the Gaza ceasefire fails this test. It drips with hatred towards Israel, and towards those who support Israel — which includes the overwhelming majority of Australian Jews, as well as both major political parties. It is also typically nasty. It was not Carlton’s views that got him in to trouble with the Sydney Morning Herald, but his response to people who challenged him, including myself who he labelled an “abusive fuckwit” (he may be a sound judge of character but in this case the evidence did not support his claim).

More importantly, his article is full of false assertions and dishonest arguments. He says that Israel’s “stated aim” was to achieve “crushing military and economic dominance of the Palestinian people.” Israel never stated any such aim. Israel’s stated aim was to stop Hamas firing rockets at Israel’s cities. That aim has now been achieved, and with Hamas stopping its rocket fire Israel has ceased responding.

Carlton cites the number of deaths in Gaza as evidence for the assertion (made openly in his July column) that Israel is waging a “war of terror on the entire Gaza population … Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs.” The facts refute this claim. Israel conducted well over 5000 air strikes against targets in Gaza. The official death toll is about 2000. Does anyone seriously suppose that if Israel’s sole aim was to “kill Arabs”, it would have been so incompetent at doing so? Israel could have bombed Gaza to rubble and killed tens of thousands of Arabs if that had been its aim.

But it wasn’t. Israel’s aim was to destroy Hamas’ rocket sites and tunnels. Israel attempted to minimise casualties, Hamas attempted to maximise them. It deliberately placed its launch sites in built-up areas, next to schools, hospitals and mosques, so that more people would be killed. As the Hamas Charter says: “death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of [our] wishes.” Captured Hamas documents prove that this was a deliberate strategy, designed to persuade the gullible and the malevolent (Mike Carlton is both) that Hamas is somehow an injured innocent in this conflict.

This conflict was entirely of Hamas’ making. Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, murdered its political opponents, imposed a fascistic regime on the people, then turned Gaza into a base for waging war on Israel. This year alone Hamas has fired more than 3000 missiles into Israel, every one of them intended to kill Israeli civilians.

It’s true that few Israelis were killed by Hamas’ rockets. That’s because Israel, unlike Hamas, cares about the lives of its citizens and has spent fortunes on shelters, sirens and anti-missile systems. That does not in any way deny Israel the right to take action to stop these attacks.

Carlton draws an elaborate analogy between this conflict and the Vietnam War. The analogy is a false one. The US was not fighting a war of self-defence in Vietnam. North Vietnam was not firing rockets at American cities. The US could afford to abandon Vietnam to its fate when public support for the war collapsed. Israel has no such luxury, and the Israeli public knows that. Polls showed over 90% of Jewish Israelis supported the campaign against Gaza.

Carlton’s trump card is the letter to the New York Times condemning Israel and signed by 40 Holocaust survivors. He obviously doesn’t know much about Jewish demographics. There are about 120,000 Holocaust survivors still alive in the US, and probably twice that number in Israel. The vast majority of them support Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. Even here in Melbourne, I could get more than 40 Holocaust survivors to sign a statement of support for Israel in a morning. They would tell Carlton, if he had the nerve to ask them, “Never again will Jews be denied the right to defend themselves.”

It suits Mike Carlton’s malevolent agenda to suggest that anyone who supports Israel’s actions belongs to a “powerful and sophisticated Likud lobby.” This is nonsense. I am a Labor party member and a Labor candidate for the coming Victorian state election. If I was an Israeli, I would not vote for Likud. I would vote for the Israeli Labor Party — a progressive party which fully supported the campaign in Gaza.

I support a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and I oppose the expansion of settlements in the West Bank as counter-productive. But I also oppose people hiding behind the cloak of “proportionality” to deny Israel the right to defend itself while giving a free pass to proscribed terrorist organisations such as Hamas.

That is anti-Semitism.


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26 thoughts on “How Mike Carlton got it wrong

  1. Damon

    It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel, but it is if you don’t hold other regimes and conflicts to the same standard.

    Absolute and utter drivel. If that’s the opening statement I refuse to read it further. Go call someone else names.

  2. cairns50

    sorry Philip Mike Carlton got it right you got it wrong

    the truth hurts doesnt it?

  3. Michael

    A well constructed and argued article that will no doubt be condemned by thoughtless denialists. It is banal for the safe smug Australian siperati to condemn Israel. Try and see a little deeper.

  4. Kevin Herbert

    Philip Dalidakis’ comments are meaningless tosh, and are taken straight out of the Zionist Anti Defamation League’s widely discredited talking points.

    The definition of anti-Semitism has become so broad, and the label of anti-Semite so loosely applied, that it can now be used to describe almost any academic, author, activist, or correspondent that says anything critical about Israel or Jewish persons, regardless of the validity.

    US Jewish activist Dr Norman Finkelstein says that, “new anti-Semitism is neither new, nor anti-Semitism.” Finkelstein argues that organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have brought forward charges of new anti-Semitism since the 1970′s not to fight anti-Semitism, but rather to exploit the historical suffering of Jews in order to immunize Israel from criticism.”
    According to the Anti-Defamation League, ‘new anti-Semitism’ can include legitimate criticism of Israel if the author does not equally criticize other countries that demonstrate similar behavior. This ridiculously faulty premise ignores the fact that many activists and journalists choose to singularly focus their attention on a certain region, country, or cause”

    The most significant fact about Dalidakis’ piece is that he thinks his views have any credibility in 2014.

  5. ilolatu

    “Israel’s stated aim was to stop Hamas firing rockets at Israel’s cities. That aim has now been achieved, and with Hamas stopping its rocket fire Israel has ceased responding.”

    Israel has responded to ceasefire by taking 400 hectares of Palestinian land.

  6. Draco Houston

    “It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel, but it is if you don’t hold other regimes and conflicts to the same standard.”

    Rubbish. Not reading the rest. Since when did we have to hold non-state actors to the same standard as an ally?

  7. Russ Hunter

    “Israel never stated any such aim [crushing military and economic dominance of the Palestinian people].”

    I think that is well and truly achieved already.

    Philip Dalidakis, you claim to want a two-state solution but have not a bad word to say about Israel. Spare me.

  8. Jake

    Philip, I’m sure you didn’t pen this reply to Carlton’s latest toxic piece in order to feel the love on Crikey, where the “liberal” minds are so set in their views that some freely admit they won’t bother reading if your view differs from theirs, while others re-visit their fantasies of Zionist talking points and show off big new words like “hasbara” because they think it makes them sound grown up and knowledgeable. Good onya for a clear and logical analysis. I’d add only that the destruction of Hamas’s tunnel network was another of Israel’s stated aims, once it became apparent how extensive and threatening it was.

  9. Dogs breakfast

    Philip Dalidakis, commentator for Sky News and ABC News writes

    “blah blah blah, anti-semitic, blah blah blah.”

    Well that’s new. Someone suggesting that anything written calling out Israel, the government, for the utter bastardry of recent times, is anti-semitic. I suppose that especially extends to those Auschwitz survivors and descendents what wrote that nasty letter, the Mr Carlton quoted from.

    How dare he quote Jews who are speaking up against the actions of a bereft and clueless government.

  10. Khupert the Runt

    Dear Philip,

    You don’t seem to understand how your words come across.

    Same old same old comes to mind.

    Carlton: “…drips with hatred…..towards….the overwhelming majority of Australian Jews”

    Not at all, he, like me finds it is simply tragic to see so many people unable to see the bigger sadder picture of two nations, one of which will always have the power to totally annihilate the other, unable to create a rational and fair peace, because they have an all too literal belief in words written thousands of years ago.

  11. Jake

    No, Dogs Brekky, Philip did not suggest “that anything written calling out Israel, the government, for the utter bastardry of recent times, is anti-semitic”. I suggest you re-read what he says about double-standards at the outset.
    Israel/Jews are accused by Carlton of genocide, ethnic cleansing and the intentional murder of Arabs, which is worse than being accused of anti-Semitism, and hardly anyone calls him out on it, even though, as Philip points out, if that were Israel’s aim, they’re surprisingly bad at it, aren’t they? Bad enough to have lost around 70 young Israeli soldiers instead of just aerial bombing the place. Even risking tipping off would-be militant targets in the course of warning Palestinian civilians to evacuate.
    Heaping blame on, and attributing a desire for Palestinian civilian deaths to, Israel and ignoring Hamas’s moral culpability, Carlton’s claim is just poisonous nonsense, and the modern version of anti-Semitic blood libels. It would take courage for his more devoted supporters to acknowledge the truth of this.

  12. Jake

    Khupert, if you believe that one of the nations (I presume you mean Israel) “will always have the power to totally annihilate the other” then I assume you don’t agree with Carlton that Israel’s aim is genocide, otherwise what would they be waiting for, this being the third such conflict in only a handful of years.
    From the Israeli side, the conflict is not principally about religious belief but self-defence, as Philip has already described. Hamas are not the partners with whom any nation could create a rational and fair peace. They can’t even do that with their Fatah partners in their so-called unity government. In theory, at least, there is no reason Israelis and Palestinians could not co-exist, which is not to say there aren’t significant obstacles to overcome.

  13. Giselle Dawson

    why dint you have paypal for subscriptions

  14. Jaybuoy

    Hiding behind the cloak of “proportionality”.. as does our common law… your only entitled to a commensurate force..

  15. Mike R

    While agreeing with 95% of the above article, I am not sure whether an abject failure of the sincerity test, that is ignoring or minimizing the resultant mayhem of any conflict that does not involve Israel, is necessarily a gold standard marker for anti-Semitism.

    The failure of such a test could also (or instead) be characterized as hypocritical and a delusional ideological byproduct of the extremes of the left or the right. It is often hard to distinguish between these extremes as they purloin the rhetoric of each other.

    Whether anti-Semitism is the major driving force usually requires further evidence. I am more charitable than many others as I believe most of the hostile comments in Crikey are of a shared delusional nature rather than the anti-Semitic variety. Maybe I am too naïve.

    There are of course obvious exceptions ( will not name names, but just Google “Crikey” and the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and you will get the idea).

    I think each case should be judged on its merits rather than using anti-Semitism as generic label .

    Likewise I think the propensity of Carlton and his acolytes in Crikey to use generic labels to abuse those who disagree with them serve no purpose other than to inflame debate. In particular the use of labels such as Likkudnik, pissant, Jewish bigot, Kaffelatsch ( I gather this is this supposed to be a reference to Café latte drinking Jews, if so, he sounds awfully like Alan Jones ) etc. has demeaned any standing Mike Carlton had as a journalist.

    It is also sad that he has done a disservice to rational debate which is in such short supply when it comes to the Middle-East.

  16. Thteribl

    So proportionate force would mean Israel lobbing rockets at Hamas, one-for-one ? Wise up people ! HAMAS – Al Quaeda – ISIS is all the same. It is a death-cult. If it can, it will impose death on all “unbelievers”. Recognition of a Jewish state is anathema to it. That doesn’t leave many options for peace !

  17. CML

    Not only do we have to endure yet another ‘get Carlton’ diatribe Crikey, but you allow this correspondent to completely take over the letters page! Never seen that before.
    And Philip – the only reason we are not witnessing genocide by Israel, in Gaza, is because the Yanks would have a very hard time explaining their support for such a program to the rest of the civilised world. The Yanks, and all their mates, are currently ‘outraged’ (rightly) by the activities of IS in Syria and Iraq. They would look like total hypocrites if they backed such behaviour by Israel, wouldn’t they?!!
    In my book, if Israel wants the world’s approval, it should withdraw to the territory it was granted by the UN in 1948, and take all its military hardware and settlements with it. Then the Palestinians can have their own country in ALL of the land the UN left them.
    There should be a line of ‘peacekeepers’ right along the border, sanctioned by the UN and stationed in Palestine – I’m guessing the Israelis wouldn’t allow them on their side of the border – to keep the peace. Perhaps it will take a few years, until they all start acting like grown-ups, but surely this is preferable to the hell hole which is Gaza and the West Bank today.

  18. negativegearmiddleclasswelfarenow.com

    Another apologist for the barbaric state.

    Even the likes of Malcolm Fraser are pointing this out. Just don’t mention the Israeli attack of the USS Liberty in June 1967.

    Fraser did – take a listen to what happened.


  19. Rob Wain

    Great article Philip, very well written. Will keep all the anti semites racist idiots busy commenting for the next day or so.

  20. CML

    Okay Philip – What excuse do you have for the latest Israeli outrage? I read this morning that Israel has announced it has STOLEN 400 hectares of Palestinian land situated around the town of Bethlehem.
    That should be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Sure the usual suspects (UN, USA, Eurospe) are making the usual ‘tut-tut’ noises, but it is way past time that Israel was called to account for its illegal behaviour.
    As far as I’m concerned, Israel is a pariah state and should be treated as such.
    Sanctions anyone?

  21. Dogs breakfast

    Actually Jake, it wasn’t Carlton who acused Israel of genocide, it was a direct quote from a letter written by survivors and descendants of survivors from Auschwitz.

    It’s hard to argue that the recent events didn’t involve indiscriminate killing of civilians in Gaza.

    Just the facts, Jake.

  22. Jake

    “Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/comment/israels-rank-and-rotten-fruit-is-being-called-fascism-20140724-zwd2t.html#ixzz3CETevzl1

    Just the facts, Dogs breakfast.

  23. sebster

    Philip Dalidakis, let it go.

  24. Kevin Herbert

    sebster: nail that vibe……

  25. Brand Arie

    D.wrote: “It is not anti-semitic to criticise Israel, but it is if you don’t hold other regimes and conflicts to the same standard”

    his argument is often encountered and thoroughly false. Why? For two main reasons:

    1.Israel presents itself as part of the Western world (the only democracy in the Middle East etc.). This self image is by and large accepted by the West. It enjoys several advantages in consequence: in preferential trade deals, in the supply of advanced weaponry, in intelligence sharing etc. But if it is part of the West it is more open to critique (within the West) than an Asian or African country mistreating minorities. This is not because what happens there is necessarily less awful but because we have less responsibility for it.

    2. In addition: the evil of Israel’s actions has to be brought to the fore more forcefully than is the case with evil elsewhere, even within the Western world, because Israel has, as no other transgressing nation, a world wide claque that seeks to defend it, to cover up its crimes and to tell us, in short, that black is white. What the Singhalese did to the Tamils in Sri Lanka is a horrific crime but there has been no battalion of defenders in Western parliaments and media telling us that the Singhalese were quite justified in doing it. Otherwise with Israel. The deception practiced in its defence is an outrage in itself. People gag at this mendacious stuff being rammed down their throats. Critique is a natural and necessary reaction to it.



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